Baseball is happening! Watching baseball again is quite possibly the best feeling in the world. Better than getting married and I can say that because my wife doesn’t read any of my stuff…. can’t say I blame her. I decided for the entire season to run a weekly article on pitchers who have been “heating up.” I will dive into what it could mean for the pitcher and what you should do with them. This should be a captivating concept because it will be pitchers of all levels, anywhere from aces to pitchers you would have never drafted. That’s what it’s all about, catching players as they improve and acting on it before anyone else can realize. Welcome to “Throwing Heat!”
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The NFBC runs all kinds of contests ranging anywhere from $50 to $5000. Two of their main contests are Online Championships which are mainly $350 (qualifiers are available) and their Main Event which is a $1700 buy-in. The attractiveness of the NFBC is that there is an overall prize meaning you can win your league and try to beat everyone else in all of the other leagues for a huge score.
As a fun exercise below, I took the ADP since March 1st for both the Online Championships and the Main Event to compare the two. It’s worth noting that historically the Main Event always pushes up starting pitching. More importantly in Main Events, participants aren’t afraid to get “their” guys. Meaning they will jump ADP by a few rounds to make sure they get a player they love. Here are some players who have taken a noticeable jump between the two leagues.
When grabbing pitchers and hitters towards the end game of the draft it makes complete sense to grab players who start off with an easy schedule. Based on the Main Event format where 450 players are taken overall so we will stick with pitchers who are in the 400 range. Below are some pitchers who are decent additions to start the season due to their matchups. Just make sure not to hold on for too long where they can burn you.
Alec Mills, CHC 432 ADP
Projected starts: vs PIT, @PIT, @MIL
I was crazy enough to make a bold prediction that Mills would be the SP1 for the Cubs in 2021 so how could I not mention him here? Mills is known for being deceptive and seems to possess our brand new shiny toy called seam-shifted wake. He holds a deep arsenal where he prefers to lean heavily on his sinker and four-seam fastball. His pitches provide a ton of movement especially his changeup and slider (throw them more Mills!). Overall the late price could be seen as perceived value.
1) Zach Eflin is the Matthew Boyd of 2020.
Matt Boyd had a lot of buzz coming into the 2020 season. He had a stellar first half of 2019 and the high strikeout rate seemed like an intriguing option. Well, this year it seems like Zach Eflin is being touted by several analysts in the fantasy baseball Twitterverse. Last season overall Eflin produced a 3.97 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and an impressive 28.6 K%.
Of course, any time a pitcher raises their strikeout rate by 10% it will bring excitement. I’m here to temper those expectations. On the surface level let’s look at what he did in two months compared to his career average.
A ton of improvement compared to his career numbers. Eflin is only 26 so growth can occur but with improvements on surface stats, we have to look deeper to figure out why he improved.
As the saying goes, boring is better. A lot of fantasy baseball players look for the next best thing. This is mainly due to the fear of missing out on a breakout or new exciting young player. Sure, it’s extremely valuable to find those pitchers but it’s also really hard to find them. What most don’t realize is that taking those “old” boring players can be just as valuable. With a long track record and decent numbers, these pitchers could give you stable innings and ratios with a predictable floor.
For this article, we will be going through a couple of pitchers that you might want to avoid on draft day. This doesn’t mean they are in a sense bad, it just means based on their ADP they don’t seem to have any perceived value. This could be for a variety of reasons such as playing time, stuff, or injury history.
Walker Buehler ADP 19
We all know that innings will be at a premium coming into the 2021 season. We have heard of teams already saying tack on 100 innings to their innings pitched from last season. We have also heard of teams already setting a hard cap like the Mariners. This is the only reason you might want to avoid Walker Buehler.
Spring training can be helpful in determining a pitcher’s future performance. While most of it should be taken with a grain of salt, sometimes it can be a calling card for things to come. Some major components to look out for involve velocity, command, and pitch mix.
At the beginning of free agency, there were so many free-agent closers on the market. This left it very difficult to get a grasp on bullpens if you were drafting in November and December. One popular strategy for those who were drafting early was to grab one of the top four to five relief pitchers so you didn’t have to worry about it. Recently there have been a few signings that could clear up some of these muddied situations.
With the recognition now of how wins is a terrible statistic for starting pitchers a lot of leagues have moved to quality starts. Wins for a pitcher has very little to do with their ability. Sure they can put themselves in a position for a win but they are then reliant on both their offense and bullpen to achieve that win. Just take a look at Jacob deGrom (you can probably hear me sigh from wherever you are reading this). Quality starts is something that is more so based on a pitcher’s performance alone. It’s simple, pitch at least six innings with no more than three earned runs and you earn a quality start. Let’s glance at the quality start leaders from last season.